Serbia advance by beating Croatia

CROATIA - Serbia advanced to the semifinals of the Davis Cup for the first time after second-ranked Novak Djokovic defeated Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 yesterday.

CROATIA - Serbia advanced to the semifinals of the Davis Cup for the first time after second-ranked Novak Djokovic defeated Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 yesterday.

The win gave Serbia an unassailable 3-1 lead over its neighbor and rival in their best-of-five series. Serbia will host the Czech Republic in the last four in September.

Djokovic had to brave a fiery Croatian crowd which hurled ethnic insults at him during a match that lasted two hours, 24 minutes. This was Djokovic's fifth straight victory against the 13th-ranked Cilic.

The players exchanged early breaks in a tense third set, but then Cilic lost two of his service games in a row. Djokovic sealed the win with a drop shot which Cilic could not reach.

Cilic had 59 unforced errors, compared to Djokovic's 30, and lost eight service games.

"He started real well and I made too many unforced errors," Cilic said.

"My serve was the key in this match. His return was perfect and he did not give me too many free points."

Croatia team captain Goran Prpic added: "Marin tried his best, but Djokovic played phenomenal tennis."

Serbia had taken a 2-1 lead thanks to its doubles victory on Saturday. In the opening singles on Friday, Djokovic beat Ivan Ljubicic while Cilic defeated Viktor Troicki.

The two former Yugoslav republics, which fought a war in the 1990s, have never met before in the Davis Cup. Croatia won the competition in 2005 and played in last year's semifinals. - Sapa-AP

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